The final four matches of the first round of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) annual tournament, the New Japan Cup will take place on Night 4. In the main event, veteran competitor Satoshi Kojima looks for one more run at the top against powerhouse EVIL, while in the semi-main event, former three time winner Hirooki Goto faces off with one of Bullet Club’s most tenured members, Yujrio Takahashi. Rounding out the tournament, BUSHI, matches up against YOH of Roppongi 3K and Hiroyoshi Tenzan will face YOSHI-HASHI. An eight-man tag team match between CHAOS and Los Ingobernables de Japon will also take place, proving a preview of the next round of matches.
+ Satoshi Kojima vs EVIL (New Japan Cup 2020 First Round Match): this was another ‘really solid but nothing special’ main event. I’m a sucker for EVIL in every way, and Kojima is an older guy who can still go (much like Nagata, Tanahashi, Makabe and Suzuki) and it made for a good match
+ Hirooki Goto vs Yujiro Takahashi (New Japan Cup 2020 First Round Match): this was really, really good. I know Yujiro has had a banger or two in his time, but I don’t really consider him as a great wrestler (which may be more an indictment on me than him). But these two put on a really solid match that I think would have received a good reaction from a live crowd
+ Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs YOSHI-HASHI (New Japan Cup 2020 First Round Match): maybe it was just because this followed the horrible YOH/BUSHI showing, but I enjoyed this way more than I thought I would. Tenzan is mostly immobile these days, and YOSHI-HASHI has never been a big match guy (despite a few good G1 matches) so this was significantly better than the sum of its parts
– CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & SHO) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, Shingo Takagi & Hiromu Takahashi): this had a few good moments, but overall it was mostly nothing leading to a nothing finish. I didn’t care for this, outside of a very brief SHO/Shingo/Ishii sequence
– YOH vs BUSHI (New Japan Cup 2020 First Round Match): YOH looked to injure himself relatively early (but maybe he’s just a great actor), and from that point this was not a good match. For the most part, both guys looks slow and sloppy, as if they were wrestling underwater. The final bell was a mercy killing at best
Should you watch this event: Without Ishii/Desperado, Nagata/Suzuki or SHO/Shingo this was probably the weakest night of first round action. Still, the tournament matches outside of YOH/BUSHI were pretty good, and at least the second round can only get better.